SAN JOSE — Six years ago at this very event, The Shield made their in-ring debut as a united front, kick-starting a dominant streak bonded by the brotherhood of Dean Ambrose, Seth Rollins & Roman Reigns that had never been seen before or since. But that was a long, long time ago. The Shield has long since splintered. Reigns is embroiled in the fight of his life. And Ambrose and Rollins are about as far from brothers as can be, with The Lunatic Fringe taking the Intercontinental Title from his former Shield mate in the culmination of a series of events that began with one of the more heinous betrayals in WWE history.

Dean Ambrose y Seth Rollins se hacen pedazos por el Título Intercontinental: WWE TLC 2018

Los ex compañeros de The Shield Dean Ambrose y Seth Rollins compiten por el Título Intercontinental.

Of course, the Intercontinental Title might just be a bonus for Ambrose. Their match at TLC was more about demoralization for him and taking away the “control” he felt Rollins had prioritized during their time in The Shield. Fittingly, Ambrose was in control of the bout from the jump, systematically whittling The Architect down with a targeted attack on Rollins’ surgically-repaired knee. Ambrose chose his target wisely; Rollins’ offense took as much out of him as it did Ambrose, and the lingering pain prevented The Kingslayer from breaking out the speed and athleticism that typically carries him to victory.

And yet, none of Ambrose’s strategy seemed to truly cause Rollins to snap — until, right as Rollins began to rally, Dean offered him the Shield fist bump in solidarity. That gesture, more than anything, was too much for Rollins to bear, and The Kingslayer lost it, pursuing his opponent outside the ring and driving him into the barricade with a bucklebomb before rolling him in the center of the ring.

The Architect blisteringly slapped Ambrose in the face and sprinted to the ropes for the Stomp, but Ambrose was waiting, and he caught The Architect with a match-ending Dirty Deeds that earned him the 1-2-3 and the Intercontinental Championship. Maybe Ambrose was right, and all those years calling him a lunatic were missing the point. He certainly called this one down the middle: He picked Seth Rollins apart piece by piece in ways only he knew how. Seth Rollins lost control. And Dean Ambrose took everything.

SAN JOSE — Six years ago at this very event, The Shield made their in-ring debut as a united front, kick-starting a dominant streak bonded by the brotherhood of Dean Ambrose, Seth Rollins & Roman Reigns that had never been seen before or since. But that was a long, long time ago. The Shield has long since splintered. Reigns is embroiled in the fight of his life. And Ambrose and Rollins are about as far from brothers as can be, with The Lunatic Fringe taking the Intercontinental Title from his former Shield mate in the culmination of a series of events that began with one of the more heinous betrayals in WWE history.

Dean Ambrose y Seth Rollins se hacen pedazos por el Título Intercontinental: WWE TLC 2018

Los ex compañeros de The Shield Dean Ambrose y Seth Rollins compiten por el Título Intercontinental.

Of course, the Intercontinental Title might just be a bonus for Ambrose. Their match at TLC was more about demoralization for him and taking away the “control” he felt Rollins had prioritized during their time in The Shield. Fittingly, Ambrose was in control of the bout from the jump, systematically whittling The Architect down with a targeted attack on Rollins’ surgically-repaired knee. Ambrose chose his target wisely; Rollins’ offense took as much out of him as it did Ambrose, and the lingering pain prevented The Kingslayer from breaking out the speed and athleticism that typically carries him to victory.

And yet, none of Ambrose’s strategy seemed to truly cause Rollins to snap — until, right as Rollins began to rally, Dean offered him the Shield fist bump in solidarity. That gesture, more than anything, was too much for Rollins to bear, and The Kingslayer lost it, pursuing his opponent outside the ring and driving him into the barricade with a bucklebomb before rolling him in the center of the ring.

The Architect blisteringly slapped Ambrose in the face and sprinted to the ropes for the Stomp, but Ambrose was waiting, and he caught The Architect with a match-ending Dirty Deeds that earned him the 1-2-3 and the Intercontinental Championship. Maybe Ambrose was right, and all those years calling him a lunatic were missing the point. He certainly called this one down the middle: He picked Seth Rollins apart piece by piece in ways only he knew how. Seth Rollins lost control. And Dean Ambrose took everything.